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SQL Server to Cloud: AWS RDS or EC2

Jeff Duncan | | April 21, 2020

If you want to move to the cloud, you’re probably looking for the fastest and most successful way to get there. Along the way, you’ll face many challenges and questions, including a decision about which cloud vendor to use, and deciding what type of cloud model will be best for your business.

It’s All About the Cloud

When you’re planning a move to the cloud, there are three key questions. Let’s start at the beginning. What is the cloud? The “cloud” is the nickname people use to describe having your information systems on servers that are accessible using the internet and are typically maintained by a third party. From a database standpoint, it means storing your database on either a private, public, or hybrid set of servers. The database itself is no different from one that resides on your own servers.

The next question relates to who provides these types of cloud services? The journey to the cloud began about 2006. Amazon introduced their AWS cloud services and they’ve been the market leader ever since. Microsoft came into the market later and has grown their market share, but it seems that they’re taking market share from other competitors such as Google and Alibaba.

Amazon has remained strong for several reasons. One is that they have twice as many regions with availability zones. Another is that they had seven times fewer downtime hours in 2018, the last time statistics were available. If you want to go with the strongest competitor in the market, AWS is the logical choice.

The last question businesses are considering is, “Should we move to the cloud?” There are a number of compelling reasons to make that move.

  • Supporting your business strategy. If you plan to grow your business and support global traffic, the cloud can help. You can build and test the system on a small scale and scale up to more extensive resources as you need to.
  • Lowering your capital and operational expenses. You won’t need to use capital to create your own infrastructure, and ongoing operational expenses will be lower.
  • Running a safe and secure system. Many business leaders mistakenly think that they’d have better security with databases on their own local servers. The truth is that AWS has hundreds of engineers working every day to maintain an extremely high level of security. AWS has a focus on security that individual businesses can’t replicate.
  • Owning data and accessing it securely. Another misconception is that you’ll lose ownership to the data that you store in the cloud. But, your ownership of the information remains the same. Further, only authorized company employees will be able to access the data.
  • Improving business agility. The scalability of the cloud will give you the ability to react faster to changes in requirements. You can be flexible and dynamically add or remove resources as needed.

Cloud Model Alternatives

Another decision you need to make is what type or combination of cloud models you need to best support your business. There are four types:

  • On-Premise. That’s where you probably are now with everything running on your local servers.
  • An Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) approach is like a virtual server. The cloud provider owns the server, but you treat it like a regular virtual server.
  • Using the Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach, the cloud vendor provides all the basics of IaaS along with the tools and capabilities needed to develop and deploy applications. Your developer handles the data itself.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to having software hosted by a third party in the cloud, and it is usually a subscription service.

Migration Methodology

You’ll need to use a proven methodology for migrating from SQL to AWS. It’s important to complete four steps to migrate effectively.

  1. Review your situation, including involving stakeholders
  2. Plan & Migrate. Select your migration strategy and identify recommended tools
  3. Analyze your costs to find savings or reinvestment opportunities
  4. Secure and Manage. Ensure security and data protection, and then monitor the installation

EC2 or RDS?

Amazon offers two types of SQL servers in their AWS offerings. You’ll need to decide if you’d prefer the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) or the Relational Data Base Service (RDS).

  • EC2 is the AWS version of a virtual machine; it’s an IaaS solution. It can develop and deploy applications faster and launch virtual servers as needed. It also scales up and down easily.
  • RDS is the AWS version of Database as a Service (DBaaS); it’s a PaaS service. It’s easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It’s cost-efficient and has resize capabilities along with automated administration tasks.

There are pros and cons to each approach, but you can select the right one for your business after careful assessment of your needs.

Your DBA’s Role in the Cloud

Your DBA’s role will change when you migrate to the cloud, but it won’t reduce in importance. DBAs will be responsible for software installation and maintenance, database backup and recovery, and planning High Availability and Disaster Recover solutions based on your business requirements.

Next Steps

You can get more information by reviewing our recorded webinar, “Accelerate SQL Server to AWS Cloud.” If you’re ready to get started, it makes sense to consider partnering with an organization like Datavail. Our experts can help you with the evaluations and decisions that you’ll need to make to ensure success, and guide you through your move to the cloud. If you have questions or want to discuss your specific requirements, call us at 866-834-8866, send an email or chat with us online.

To learn more, watch our webinar: Accelerate SQL Server Migration to the AWS Cloud.

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